Food Network’s Anna Olson featured celebrity chef at Fall Flavours event
ARLINGTON — An apple-themed meal can't seem much more fresh than being prepared and served among the trees of an apple orchard.
© Michael Nesbitt/Journal Pioneer
Celebrity chef Anna Olson was part of the entertainment at the Applelicious Meal in the Field Fall Flavours event at Arlington Orchards, preparing samples with her husband, chef Michael Olson, as diners enjoyed each of the five courses on the menu. Diners, like John Corsten of Antigonish, N.S., were then offered seconds from the celebrity chef preparations.
And that is just the way celebrity chef Anna Olson likes it.
Olson and her husband, Michael, a celebrity chef in his own right as well as a chef professor at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College, were the special guests at the Applelicious Meal in the Field event at Arlington Orchards as part of the annual Fall Flavours festival.
"I just love the flavours of Prince Edward Island, especially at this time of year," said Olson. “Being that we are right in the middle of an orchard, apples are the theme and included in every single course. I researched the apples that are grown here at Arlington Orchards. I knew their characteristics — what were soft apples, salad apples, starchy apples — so then I could include them in the right placement within the course.”
She was also thrilled to incorporate salmon, crab and oyster into her dishes, as she doesn't often have opportunity for fresh seafood in her home region of Ontario. Oysters were served as appetizers, dressed with a choice of apple mignonette, fresh apple salsa, crabapple jelly, or apple chili pepper hot sauce.
Olson said Fall Flavours represents that P.E.I. is a valuable and important place to be at this time of year not only for "foodies,” who come to appreciate what P.E.I. puts forward as its top flavours and ingredients, but also for people with media presence, like herself and her husband, who love coming here just as much.
It is their third visit to the Island — the first to attend a conference and speak on seasonal culinary experiences and the last two as participants in Fall Flavours.
Visitor Janet Englehutt, of Dartmouth, N.S., wasn't familiar with Olson's work, as she is not a TV watcher, but relishes being a "foodie" and was pleased to get last-minute tickets to attend.
"I usually think of Annapolis Valley when I think of apples," admitted Englehutt, who was pleased with the event and the chance to widen her horizons, especially enjoying the philosophy Olson brings to her dishes. "I just bought two of her books, because everything looked so fresh and simple and that's the way I like to cook.”
Colin Roach of Calgary, Alta., was enticed to attend because of the unusual location.
"I heard about it in Charlottetown. It's remote, isolated, and I wanted to be part and parcel of something P.E.I. to take back with me."
Mitchell Rennie, tourism manager with the North Cape Coastal Tourism Area Partnership, was pleased with the sold-out response and that diners represented every province in the country.
It is the fourth year of the Applelicious promotion and the second year of the Meal in the Field signature Fall Flavours event.
"We didn't have any real, sit-down meals for Fall Flavours,” said Rennie. “We thought it would be a good idea to give an experience in the middle of the orchard and raise the profile of the P.E.I. apple as well.”
Rennie hopes the event will contribute to making the North Cape Coastal Drive a desirable place to visit.
“It's working out to be a good fit. There is still a good amount of operations open year-round, or committing to being open into October,” he added. “The more events we can have, the better off we are.”